Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Tonal Tuesday - Explaining the SATB Choir

There is a really fun explanation of the 4 basic choir sections as seen by a young person.  I don't know where the original document came from or I would give proper credit.  I am shortening it up somewhat for our busy readers.  Have a wee giggle but realize that those of us privileged enough to conduct a choir, know secrets not shared here.  Stay tuned for more.

The four parts of the choir can be easily distinguished and here is how.

entertainment,music,occupations,opera singers,operas,persons,singers,vocalistsSOPRANOSare the ones who sing the highest, and because of this they think they rule the world. They have longer hair, fancier jewelry, and swishier skirts than anyone else, and they consider themselves insulted if they are not allowed to go at least to a high F in every movement of any given piece. 



ALTOSare the salt of the earth - in their opinion, at least. Altos are unassuming people, who would wear jeans to concerts if they were allowed to. Altos are in a unique position in the chorus in that they are unable to complain about having to sing either very high or very low. They know that while the sopranos are screeching away on a high A, they are being forced to sing elaborate passages full of sharps and flats and tricks of rhythm, and nobody is noticing because the sopranos are singing too loud (and the basses usually are too). Altos get a deep, secret pleasure out of conspiring together to tune the sopranos flat. Altos have an innate distrust of tenors, because the tenors sing in almost the same range and think they sound better.

TENORSare spoiled. That's all there is to it. For one thing, there are never enough of them, and choir directors would rather sell their souls than let a halfway decent tenor quit. And then, for some reason, the few tenors there are, are always really good - it's one of those annoying facts of life.. So it's no wonder that tenors always get swollen heads - after all, who else can make sopranos swoon? It is a little-known fact that tenors move their eyebrows more than anyone else while singing.

Image result for TUBABASSESsing the lowest of anybody. This basically explains everything. They are stolid, dependable people, and have more facial hair than anybody else. The basses feel perpetually unappreciated, but they have a deep conviction that they are actually the most important part (a view endorsed by musicologists, but certainly not by sopranos or tenors), despite the fact that they have the most boring part of anybody and often sing the same note (or in endless fifths) for an entire page. They compensate for this by singing as loudly as they can get away with - most basses are tuba players at heart.
As for the sopranos, they are simply in an alternate universe which the basses don't understand at all. They can't imagine why anybody would ever want to sing that high. When a bass makes a mistake, the other three parts will cover him, and he can continue on his merry way, knowing that sometime, somehow, he will end up at the root of the chord.

2 comments:

Michelle Graham said...

So true! Love!

Embro Thistle Singers said...

Thanks Michelle. All in good fun!
Kitty